Hours ago, with the fate of Columbus’ selection resting solely in the undeserving hands of the Edmonton Oilers, I sat wavering on who I wanted the Jackets to select in the second position. Originally I was committed on the Oilers finally addressing their defensive issues, leaving Yakupov and Galchenyuk on the board while taking either Murray or Reinhart. Shockingly, or I suppose completely not shocking at all, Edmonton opted to take the best player available in Yakupov.
A day ago, I would have been openly frustrated at the idea of Columbus taking a defenseman with the second overall pick. I was committed to Galchenyuk or a trade to a team in the 3-6 pick range. It took only a handful of tweets, blog posts, and analyst commentary about Ryan Murray’s stability and leadership as a player to realize just how special he can be for this team.
Realistically, I would have accepted a trade, but as soon as Howson said his name I was satisfied, and I believe based on the reaction I read throughout the tweets, on the Union Blue forums, and in texts that Columbus found a real gem. It also shows the confidence that Howson has in his group of scouts, and in Ryan Murray. He was noted saying that Murray still being on the board closed the door to a potential trade of the number two pick, and I support that kind of confidence.
This pick immediately helps to solidify the Blue Jackets defensive core. With Wisniewski, Johnson, Tyutin, Nikitin, Methot, Moore, Savard, and now Murray all NHL capable, the team suddenly finds themselves in a surplus of NHL caliber defensemen. Certainly this gives Howson the ability to pursue top six forward talent for one of Tyutin or Methot, but it also provides them the ability to rotate three defensemen into the lineup out of camp to see who best suits the group, while still allowing the other two to develop in the appropriate league.
The remainder of the first round was a strange mix of surprising picks and a few trades, none of which included Columbus. As the picks moved into the early 20s, I started to get anxious about the idea of Howson taking the optional 1st rounder of Los Angeles (30th) rather than waiting for 2013. From that point, I saw a few guys go that I would have liked to see slip, and apparently Howson saw the same, as the pick was left for the Kings at the last moment.
Tomorrow morning will see the Jackets first on the board. Commentary suggests that a trade is quite possible, although there appears to be a player the Jackets like there. If it were me, it would be Halifax winger Martin Frk. He can bring a physical game and is known to have a heavy, hard shot. The thought of adding Frk to a line with 2011 2nd rounder Boone Jenner excites me. Two guys who will be very, very hard to play against.
I continue to hope that Howson can find a way to get a Nash deal completed before the weekend ends, but I am less optimistic. It may take until early July for teams to realize their definitive interest in Nash, although with the haul Pittsburgh just got for a potential one year rental in Staal, I would think the price for Nash was solidified. As long as Howson is patient and gets a quality deal, I will remain patient and optimistic.
Carry the Flag!